Dream Birth Location?(134 Posts)
I'm an architecture student at Bath University and am currently designing a Birth Centre. I'd be really grateful if anyone has had their baby in a birth centre or is going to, why they chose the birth centre (or Midwife Led Unit) over a hospital or home birth?
Was there a feature that you particularly loved or even hated?
Or if you decided against a Birth Centre, what was your reason?
Basically, if you could design your dream environment to give birth in, what you you pick?? Even if it's on top a mountain in the middle of nowhere, I'd love to hear!
I'm very grateful for any responses!
I enjoyed my 2nd birthing room - no bed was a big one for me - they had exercise mats of various sizes, large spacious room with sofa and a birthing pool (wasn't used but it was ready). Nice Windows with natural light, quiet, I used an exercise ball a lot, the floor was white tiles but I really wouldn't want to birth in a room with carpet.
I had room to walk around, there was a small refrigerator and sink and drinking water and a private en suite. Clean, natural light, spacious, quiet, big.
I have chosen a home birth this time round due to the horrendous post natal wards that seem to be a country wide problem. Labour wards are all ok down here. MLU are lovely but as soon as you move to the post natal ward it all goes horrendously and down hill.
Sort out the post natal care and you would have a lot of happy mums!!
The only thing I cared about, and the only thing that matters, is if my babies were born healthy. I know many may disagree, but the birth is about the wellness of your child, not about your idealized fantasies about what delivery "should" be.
The only thing I cared about was the safety of my child. I looked very carefully at the statistics on birth location and outcome. I concluded that although I was "low risk" for all of my pregnancies, if something had gone wrong, the potential for catastrophic or life-changing adverse outcomes was worse at a birth centre without access to obstetricians. The local birth centre was a 20-30 minute ambulance ride from the nearest doctor-led maternity ward. No amount of cosy furniture and calming decor was going to persuade me to risk my child's health, even though I know it is cheaper for the NHS.
One thing I didn't like about the birth centre vs the labour ward was the nitrous oxide provision. In the labour ward, gas was plumbed in, so you got full strength gas and no supply limits. In the birth centre, they had no gas plumbed in, so it was tanks only, which lost potency as they emptied, and once empty, you were left waiting until the midwife would find time to get you new tanks. And contractions don't wait! So gas plumbing gets my vote.
It should be immediately next door to a consultant led delivery suite. The most low risk of pregnancies can turn bad in minutes - MW led units in the community are dangerous and should be shut down. You can have all the frills you like, but you need to be seconds away from good medical care.
Dimmer switches on all lights to allow for dark and cosy or light and bright depending on preference
TV- we need distracting!
Sofa (wipe clean)
Bedside lamps for reading
Birthing pool with steps each end
One of those ceiling ropes (variotrac type thing)
Gas and air plumbed in
Speakers to plug your phone into
Windows that open
Heating that really does provide a constant ambient temperature not hot by the radiator. And not underfloor - can't imagine kneeling trying to birth on a warm floor!
Double bed so you can stay in the room with partner
Maybe something go facilitate birthing on all fours - a ledge in one wall to lean on, at a low height to take the strain off your hands
Nothing could ever have made me consider a birth centre. Friends of mine have extolled the virtues of a popular one, which sounds like a lovely place to relax during labour, but the deal breaker for me is the 40min it takes blue lighted to nearest hospital.
For me, all that mattered and helped me relax was knowing I was in a safe, clean hospital, with attentive staff checking on me and consultant obstetricians on the floor plus a top notch neonatal unit in the building should anything have gone wrong. And all the pain relief options if I needed them.
All the other stuff people listed is incidental. I did quite appreciate access to a socket to charge my phone so I could organise/ keep in touch with emergency childcare (no family close by so it was a quick scramble to see what friends were available) for DC1 when I had DC2.
Agree with some above, the only kind of birth centre I would have considered would have been one adjacent to full obstetric facilities. I have heard it said that statistics about safe deliveries don't matter if you are the 1 in 100 or whatever. Whilst some things that go wrong give you a little warning, some of the common obstetric difficulties need prompt action there and then to avoid bad outcomes. Another phrase that comes to mind is that "low risk" can only be determined in retrospect ... (certainly for first deliveries in particular)
By "adjacent to" I mean literally next door, absolutely on the same floor, and by no means in another building.
Sadly I can't help with suggestions on the rest as I had two attempted inductions leading rapidly to C-section ... There are some excellent points made above though.
Oh and I didn't say - I wanted an MLU because I have a history of sexual abuse and rape and I wanted somewhere as calm and relaxed as possible, far from the bright lights and doctors of delivery suite. I was discouraged from having a home birth with my first and then not considered low risk for the next (low risk enough for MLU next to delivery suite but not for home). The MLU I was in had dimmer switches and birthing pools, birthing stools and speakers.
I think the psychological impact of childbirth is often dismissed but certainly for me it was imperative my mental health was looked after.
Hoping for a home birth this time. Got it all planned in my head already. Just have to find out if it would be a good idea!
Thank you so much everyone! You've all been a great help, all very interesting points you've made
I had a home birth but there were a few things that really put me off the midwife led unit I could have attended: 1) dolphins painted/stencilled on the walls of the water birth room 2) not all rooms were ensuite 3) some rooms didn't have windows so you couldn't get any fresh air 4) sound proofing was non existent
As a few pp said, the deal breaker for me is proximity to medical care with doctors present. I am extremely lucky that I gave birth in a birth centre within a major hospital - I chose that one specifically as if problems were to arise, it would be a case of going across the hall to the labour ward rather than being blue-lighted elsewhere.
The things I loved about the birth centre were dim lights in the rooms, sofas, beanbags, birthing ball, gas and air plumbed in, candles, all rooms en-suite. I would have loved for there to be a pool in all the rooms (I had to wait 3-4 hours before I could use one) and double beds for resting after the birth (my local birth centre has this but not attached to a hospital). They did not have speakers but this wasn't an issue for me as I had my own
Location: next door to full obstetrics and theatres.
Central nurses station
a shower room for each labour room. Walking down the corridor 4 hrs after birth (with epidural) was quite hard work.
Windows - natural light is great. View not.important so windows high up if it's a ground floor room.
Large space to allow people and any Meds to be placed anywhere around the labouring woman.
Doors that open wide but make sure there is something that allows for privacy. Labour #1 the door was kept open but it meant rhat my exposed bottom half was exposed to anyone wandering up the corridor.
Also have rooms for visitors to wait in away from labour rooms.
I don't think that all the things that have been suggested should be limited to birth centres. All women should have access to these ' fluffy ' extras that make a normal birth more likely (low lights, equipment to mobilise etc) and also have the level of care and monitoring they need. It makes me cross that you can have the room with the pool and the tea tray if you are 'low risk' but are condemned to the bright lights and hospital bed if ' high risk ' even if that only means you need a cannula. So my birth centre would actually be a labour ward with doctors and medical equipment discreetly on hand and used as needed.
I agree wholeheartedly with lunchboxtroubles .
Mw led units seem to be a dangerous middle ground. Homebirth or proper hospital care, but not this dodgy shiny lavender scented inbetween land with whale music and no proper backup.
I there was good evidence for midwife led units improving outcomes for mother and baby.
Also if you are in need of an emergency caesarean, say, often someone being rushed in from a home birth or birth Center gets one before someone already on the labour ward. Someone who a midwife has deemed worthy of transfer is automatically classed as 'high risk' and bumped up the list. Someone with the same complications sat in delivery suite will be more accurately assessed and so may be pushed further down the queue.
Time between development of complications and caesarean (for example, but insert your preferred intervention here), for someone in my area, is generally shorter for those who start out homebirthing (and midwives call an ambulance for transfer) than for those already in the hospital. My understanding is that that is also true for the next area along between birth centre and hospital. In fact my understanding is that that is generally true across the country.
Birth centres, or home birth, terribly dangerous? The stats don't say that.
Yes, I'd agree the priority would be located right next to the consultant led obstetrics unit.
Other than that, plumbed in G&A, birth pools, ensuite with bath with shower, calm lighting. Good sound insulation so you can't hear the women next door yelling.
Another vote for next to labour ward. Beyond that - somewhere for partner to stay overnight and someone to come check latch before being discharged.
I wouldn't choose a birth centre. I gave birth abroad in a hospital with two obstetricians present (which was a bit unnecessary!) and knowing that they were available definitely made me feel safer - as did the proximity of the NICU and ICU.
The one thing I'd suggest would be a big bed. The bed I was on was narrow and at one point I wanted to go on all fours to push but that would have been almost impossible as it was already difficult to turn over at that gestation.
The room I was in after the birth was amazing - free wifi, TV, plush bed, ensuite, three course meals with a full menu to choose from, room service, sofa bed for DH... sounds indulgent but it made a massive difference and those two days in the hospital with my beautiful new baby were the best two days of my life. I left happy and rested. Any chance of that happening?
I chose a birth centre mainly because of the more private, more relaxed atmosphere. I was lucky because the birth centre was in the hospital itself, right by the delivery suite, so had there been any problems I could have been transferred straight away, just a short trip down the corridor. Also the NICU/ SCBU was nearby as well, which was good in the end as unfortunately my lo had to be taken there.
I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, so knew the birth centre would be my best option. I wanted as natural a birth as possible- using my tens machine for as long as possible, and the birth ball and birthing pool. I didn't want any drugs if possible, and defiantly wanted to avoid an epidural if possible.
I loved the room, it was large and comfortable, and had everything you could think of- proper pool, large bed, ball, a seat type thing. There was a large en suite bathroom which I really liked. And most of all it was so quiet in the room. With the door closed I couldn't hear a thing outside. And I had the same midwife and student, and only they came into me.
I got to stay in the room while I had my stitches done and fed my baby. He had to go to NICU, but I was allowed to have a shower and get dressed all before I had to leave the room and go to the
dreaded horrid post natal ward.
I would definitely choose a birth centre again next time. (Though if it wasn't attached to a hospital I would think twice. I liked the homely atmosphere, but I also liked knowing that I could easily be transferred to the delivery suite within minutes if necessary).
I think all these people who are insisting a MLU be immediately adjacent to a Consultant led unit are not appropriate candidates for using a MLU! I would choose one to be well away from Obstetricians who have fuck all experience of normal birth. As you asked OP, my ideal birth centre would have nothing clinical about it, just somewhere quiet and secluded with some private outside space so you could have door/windows open. Probably not too big and airy as I think I'd feel too exposed. Small and cosy with a clean bed, furniture to lean/pull on and definitely no clocks!
Perhaps, mince, that's because we know that had we been far away in a nice calm, secluded, cosy MLU with no obstetricians and no clocks, our babies wouldn't be here.
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